Concrete Countertop DIY

Concrete Countertop DIY abeautifulmess.com “I’m sorry, did you say I could make my own concrete countertop??” Yes I did! In gathering our ideas for the  new studio space, we realized that we would finally have a chance to try our own concrete countertop DIY. We loved reading about this DIY countertop last year and were so impressed that we wanted to try it ourselves. Here’s what we did:Concrete Countertop DIY abeautifulmess.com Supplies: Ardex Feather Finish (we used two bags), fine/medium/coarse sandpaper, hand sander (optional), several sizes and widths of putty knives and drywall knives, disposable containers to mix concrete, concrete sealer, painter’s tape, paint roller and brush.Concrete Countertop DIY abeautifulmess.com Concrete Countertop DIY abeautifulmess.com First I sanded the surface of the existing formica countertop with a coarse sandpaper (the cement will hold better to a rough surface). Next, I wiped the countertop clean with a damp rag and let dry. I found it really helpful to use painter’s tape a little above where the top of the backspash meets the wall tile. This helped save the tile and the grout from the sanding and the color of the concrete. We also took out the sink so I could get under the lip of where the sink sits on the counter. Use a small disposable container and a paint stirrer to mix your cement. I was able to find paper containers the size of move theater popcorn buckets at our local Ace hardware store, and I probably went through about 4-5 of those by the time I was done.Concrete Countertop DIY abeautifulmess.com The back of the Feather Finish said to use a 1 part water to 2 parts dry cement ratio when mixing smaller amounts, and I used a disposable plastic cup to mix this ratio in my paper bucket. I suggest only doing 1 cup water and 2 cups of dry cement per batch so that you can spread it all before it dries (any more and it tends to harden before you can use it). I used a small and a wide putty knife as well as a large drywall trowel. It was nice to have a mixture of tools to work with since particular ones came in handy at different points in the job. Use the tools to spread a thin layer of concrete over the top of your countertop. It does kind of feel like you are icing a cake, but it also reminded me of using spackle to patch a hole in a wall-you use the same type of motion. Don’t worry about getting the whole surface covered on your first go, if you have a few areas that look thin, you’ll cover them with the second coat. Concrete Countertop DIY abeautifulmess.com Concrete Countertop DIY abeautifulmess.com When you come to a right angle (like where the backsplash meets the counter) it helps to use a wide putty knife and pull the wet cement up from the countertop on the backsplash part and towards yourself away from the wall on the countertop. Pulling the cement in the opposite directions helps give the corner a cleaner look.

The hardest part of this whole job was the rounded angle on the top of the backsplash. I had to use the small putty knife to put small amounts of wet concrete on the rounded edge, smooth it out the best I could, but honestly, I shaped most of that area during sanding. If you’re ever in doubt, put too much concrete on-you can always sand off excess later, but you can’t add more without mixing another batch.Concrete Countertop DIY abeautifulmess.com Concrete Countertop DIY abeautifulmess.com I let the first coat completely air dry for 24 hours and then sanded that coat down with a medium sandpaper before adding another coat. You don’t need to get the surface very smooth at this point, you just want to sand down anything that’s sticking up a lot higher than anything else. Use a shop vacuum to clean up the extra dust and mix your concrete to add another layer. I ended up doing three layers of concrete leaving at least 24 hours of dry time between each layer.

After the final layer I spent several hours (yes, several hours) sanding the surface as smooth as possible. I used a coarse sandpaper first and then repeated the process with a much finer grade. I would suggest using thin gloves for this much hand sanding. I didn’t use any and my fingertips were not happy about for a few days! I was able to use a hand sander for some of the initial sanding, but I had to be careful with it since it sometimes it seemed too strong and would create divots instead of smoothing them out. I also removed the painter’s tape at this point. Even though I did have to use the putty knife in a few spots to scrape where a bit of concrete covered the tape, it seems to have protected the wall pretty successfully. Once the surface is smooth and your tape is removed, use the shop vacuum to remove the excess dust and you’re ready to seal your countertop!Concrete Countertop DIY abeautifulmess.com I used three coats of a water-based satin finish sealer. This sealer package recommended applying the sealer with a short nap roller and a brush for tighter areas, and that seemed to work really well. The sealer was the consistency of thinned skim milk, so you have to be careful not to splash it everywhere as you roll it on. Once the sealer was dry, we re-installed the sink and we were done!

NOTE: We shopped locally for our sealer and were told that there weren’t any food-safe concrete sealers available. We chose to go ahead with the sealer they recommended, knowing we’d always use cutting boards to protect food from the counter surface. However, upon further research we have found a few sealers that say they are food safe (like this one). Concrete Countertop DIY abeautifulmess.com Concrete Countertop DIY abeautifulmess.com Concrete Countertop DIY abeautifulmess.com
Concrete Countertop DIY abeautifulmess.com You can see that the sealer darkened the countertop a bit, but I really like the dark contrast with the white tile and yellow cabinets. So far it seems to be holding up and appears totally waterproof as well (although if water sits on the surface for a while the area turns dark and lightens back up when it dries). I have to say that this was a rather physically demanding project (I can’t even tell you how sore my arms were after the final round of sanding), but it was totally worth it. Even the contractors working in the house were impressed that I was able to do it myself and how nice it turned out! Not a bad countertop makeover for under $100, right? Think you’ll be trying it in your home anytime soon? xo. Laura

Credits // Author: Laura Gummerman, Photography: Laura Gummerman and Elsie Larson

  • Oh my goodness these are gorgeous! I am trying to convince my boyfriend to do concrete… or wood. They both look fantastic but I love these!
    Leah Faye
    a clover and a bee

  • WOW! Looks great!

    One tip that we used when we did our countertops was to use plastic wrap to smooth it out. You hold it in both hands and let it smooth over the edges that are rounded.

  • I’m excited to see that someone else has tried this technique! I’ve been wanting to pour my own concrete counters using wood molds, but I was worried about the weight of the concrete and it just seemed so excessive! I’ve been contemplating this technique, but I’ve been skeptical about how they’d hold up over time. I’d be really interested to see how these counters hold up (if there is any cracking or chipping). A follow up post in a few months or so would be great!

    • I am wondering if you ever did the concrete countertops you were thinking about? Did it work out? What if we wanted to use some color in the concrete I wonder how we would do that. Let me know if you did it and how it turned out. Thank you.

      • To my knowledge you can’t change or add color to the concrete during installation but you can get concrete stain for use after the concrete is dry. There are many different concrete stains to choose from, just do alittle research.

  • Looks great! I agree, the contrast looks amazing. It’s so easy and cheap, I’m thinking about trying it, when I makeover my kitchen.

  • Oh my goodness this turned out wonderful! I like how the color offsets the yellow cabinets as well as the white background and all of your accessories! I didn’t realize it was so easy to do this. That’s what I love about your blog you break hard DIY’s down to doable steps!

    • I used 3 coats of acrylaq after the impregnator to make my counters food safe! Love how they turned out!

  • Those counters look amazing! I have the same kind of rounded-edge counters that, up until this post, I thought I had to chuck and make concrete counters from scratch. But this looks totally doable and yields equally as beautiful results! Great job, chicas!

  • Love! We did concrete countertops too, except we cast ours in molds we made and put them on the cabinet base. We’ve had them for about a year and a half now. Still love them but they do take a good amount of upkeep. We have to re-seal them every 6 months otherwise water stains and stuff start happening. Still totally gorgeous and worth it!

  • I have been wanting to learn more about DIY concrete counters so I was so excited to see this project! My brain is buzzing with ideas for my house– Thanks for sharing as always–

  • I have concrete counters, too. They are very porous and easily damaged. Before anyone decides to go with concrete decide if you are willing to always use a cutting board and never let any drips of acidic or oily substances touch your counters. I love mine, but they are very high maintenance. .

  • Please keep us updated with how it holds up. My only concern would be that it may eventually crack. It looks beautiful and if its as durable as concrete would suggest, this seems like a great alternative to many of the more expensive materials used for counter tops.

  • Wow ! That’s really beautiful ! I always thought yellow, gray and white was the perfect combination for a kitchen 🙂 Good job !

  • I have been considering doing the same to my very 70’s counter tops. Since a full on renovation isn’t in the budget yet I feel it would be a great little upgrade from what they currently are.

    Love this! Thanks for sharing.

  • i put in butcherblock a few months ago and I TOTALLY REGRET IT! I love the way butcherblock looks at it was pretty cheap, but it is not wearing well. I’m so sad I didn’t give this a shot.

  • I wish that you’d linked to the original DIY by Kara Paslay, especially since I feel like her site may get less traffic than the Little Green Notebook. LGN linked to it (kinda).

  • Your hard work really paid off! This looks so unique and amazing, I love the contrast of the colours too 🙂

  • Very Cool! I was actually looking to do this a few months back, but was cautioned against it. Also everything I read said it would chip off and crack with being just a coating rather than making a mold and doing the whole countertop as a cement slab. Instead I did the rulstoleum countertop paint thing in a dark grey. It looks pretty good, but I’d rather have this. It looks fabulous!

  • My father works for Ardex here in Houston. They sell sealer from their own company. I’ll have to check with him to see if they sell food safe sealers, I know he does residential and commercial concrete sales, and I know they’ve been installing alot of concrete countertops in Houston lately.

    Also, Ardex sells self leveling concrete, just to make life a little bit more easy 😉

    Melinda

  • Looks great! My husband and I did the same to our countertops in December. I really like the look but I am not happy with the sealer we used. What was the brand name of yours?

  • You did a great job and your countertop looks beautiful! I have had concrete countertops in my kitchen and bathroom for a few years and although I love them and am proud of the fact we made them, they are very prone to staining. We have tried several different sealers and I think the bottom line is that they require upkeep, as much as sealing once per month or at least every few months. Watch out for red wine, olive oil, berry juice (I’ve had some major stains occur when juice leaked from bags of frozen berries while making smoothies!), and anything acidic. To my eye, some stains makes for a nice, natural, “well-lived” patina, but other stains aren’t very attractive. I’m sure you researched concrete countertops so you know about staining, but I thought it may not hurt to encourage you to seal them often. Beautiful work (as usual!)

  • I’ve seen the DIY concrete counter tops where you literally frame out your counter and pour concrete, but I’ve never heard of “painting” concrete on top of your existing counters. SUCH a good idea! Way less of a hassle and easy enough that someone who doesn’t know much about concrete-laying (*ahem* me) can do it! Great tutorial guys!

    xo Denise
    lovelybohemian.blogspot.com

  • Looks great and an easy way to add character! We did concrete counters at our old house but did them as solid poured concrete. My husband made forms and coloring for a unique look. They were the main selling point of our house.

  • You don’t know how happy I am that you did this DIY tutorial! I’ve been putting off new countertops for years because I didn’t want to spend a lot of money. I have also looked into getting concrete ones made. Now I can just follow your instructions and save a lot of money.

    Thank you so much, Laura! It looks great!

    http://www.jenndubs.etsy.com

  • This turned out super lovely! You guys did such a great job. what a cool Idea.

    rae at lovefromberlin

  • Yes! I’ve had Little Green Notebook’s countertops pinned for awhile just waiting for countertops of my own. 🙂 They look amazing!

  • I can’t even begin to tell you how inspiring this was.

    Definitely going to take on this project!

    Thanks, ABM team

    As always, so great xx

  • Wow! You did a great job. I am going to favorite this blog so I can show my husband, I would love for him (notice I said him….LOL) to try this for our countertops. I would be honored if you and any of your viewers would check out my new beauty blog at http://www.bethandbeauty.com. Thanks in advance!

  • Looks fantastic! but personally I feel like I would forget it’s not food safe and put food on it…and then eat it…The Artistically Challenged: Beauty, Fashion, Music, Lifestyle Blog

  • Wow! I love it and I am completely impressed. It could be mistaken by a full concrete block countertop! We’re looking at moving in a new apartement and I almost wish the kitchen will be competely ugly so I can try this technique. Congratulations!

  • My dad and I actually created an island in the middle of our kitchen and made the counter top out of solid concrete. He sealed it with bees wax and its held up really well for the last 14 years. 🙂 Looks lovely and much easier that what we did. 🙂

  • I love this countertop but never i have never thougth about a diy!!!!
    Thanks for sharing, i think i will try in my kitchen!

  • Oh I love this look. We are going to be redoing our kitchen soon. Our counter tops are rotten underneath so an option like this isn’t possible but I want a similar look. Glad it turned out so great for you.

  • I love the look. I would like an update in a few months of use as to durability…

  • Can you please advise on whether or not you can paint/stain the concrete prior to sealing? We have a coffee theme in our kitchen with dark walls, and I am wondering if we could paint the concrete with white or speckle it. Any suggestions?

  • This is so cool. I’ve seen other concrete counter top DIYs where they make the whole counter tops out of concrete and use molds, but I did not realize you could just kinda smear it on top of an existing counter top. Would love to try this in my own kitchen!

  • I’M curious if it will crack. I like how diy friendly it is, but our counters flex gtoo much being in a older home.

  • I never thought of covering existing counter tops with concrete. Brilliant. I wonder how often you’ll have to reseal it do to its porous nature?

  • This looks like a really good option for our kitchen. I had been considering the different countertop paints that are available now. Hmmmm! Decisions! Decisions!

  • This looks much more chic than I had expected a cement counter to look. I’ve been debating whether to do a butcher block counter in our kitchen… but this tutorial has given me a little more to think about. I like the slight industrial feel!

    Allison
    http://www.alliray.com

  • Love, love, love, LOVE! Yellow and dark grey is my favorite color combo, so I especially like the contrast of those colors together. I’d be so happy in this kitchen!

  • o my! i love this!! i want to do this now, but we’re getting ready to list our house. this was a very brave move you took & it paid off beautifully!!

  • I’ve been intrigued by concrete counters for a while now. My current counter tops are an awful flat white and I desperately want to change them. Please update us on how it holds up! I’m also concerned with cracking and stains.

  • That is just AWESOME! 😀 I would love a food-safe sealer so I can knead though on the countertop. Guess the boyfriend has a new DIY on his list now 😉

  • Simply wonderful!
    Do you think my flatmate will realize what happened in the kitchen, when she comes home tomorrow evening? 😉

  • Thanks so much for sharing this how-to! My husband and I have been dying to try a concrete counter top but were a little nervous. But this looks totally doable! Thanks!

  • Incredible! I love concrete floors as well and brick walls so this is right up my alley.

    PLEASANT FOLK/bigcartel

  • We have poured concrete countertops, and were told the same thing about the sealer. And upon investigation found out that what makes it “food safe” is the beeswax finish. We use this product – and it’s amazing. We would probably never cut on any kind of counter without a board, but this product is definitely food safe and it makes the finish so great!

    http://www.etsy.com/listing/110450397/claphams-beeswax-salad-bowl-finish-50?utm_source=google&utm_medium=product_listing_promoted&utm_campaign=supplies_low&gclid=CNzzsOWzsLwCFZPm7AodSUAAuw

  • Wow! When I saw this pop up I thought it was going to be so tricky but it looks so do-able and the finished product is amazing! Definitely one to remember for the future! xx

  • What an amazing idea! That kitchen is adorable, and thats such a great way to freshen it up with a new look. Love it!

  • Hi Monica!
    We liked the grey color, so I didn’t look into the stain option but I believe it is possible! I would search online and see what you can find 🙂

    Laura

    • Great tutorial. How have these held up over the last 3 years?! Trying to weigh pros and cons between this option and the full concrete slabs TIA

      Mandy

  • This kitchen turned out so beautiful! My countertops are just the worst; I wish I wasn’t a renter so I could try this out myself!!

  • Love it! It’s rustic, it’s cheerful, it’s fabulous! You guys done a great job like always! So inspiring! Can you guys tell me how does it deals with heath? Like if i let a hot pan settles over it? Tks so much! Kisses! Mari

  • Oh yes yes!! If you wouldn’t mind sharing how they seem to hold up over time, that would be FAAAANTASTIC! I want to do this this coming spring and want to make sure no chipping happens 🙂

  • This is such a cool idea! I am wondering if it can be used on a cement block basement shower wall? Anyone attempted this type of setting? Keep up the great projects, love it!

  • That is great! It gives the kitchen a whole new feel and looks amazing.

    You ladies are so talented and I really enjoy your blog… Thanks for all the inspiration!

  • You guys are brilliant! Seriously such a smart idea. I will likely be doing this in the future 🙂

    // Regina
    gardeniasandmint.wordpress.com

  • How is this holding up for you? I have read a few horror stories about staining over time. Thinking about trying this out in my kitchen this weekend.

  • I am very excited to have found your post on this product. Concern: How well do you think the edges will stand up to chipping? Are there suggestions for repairs should such a thing occur?

  • Weird question, but when you put the sink back in do you glue it in or anything? My boyfriend and I are re-doing our kitchen DIY style and these countertops would be PERFECT! Thanks so much for the inspiration. I can’t wait to start.

  • when we did this in our kitchen almost a year ago, we used a palm sander on the final two coats. we were able to get the concrete so smooth it was already glossy before adding the sealant. And it make putting the final coat – which we did as a skim coat – a total breeze.

  • Oh – one final thing we have learned: it is incredibly water resistant so far. But it is not super resistant to oils. We could let a few drops of water sit and dry on their own (without wiping up) and that would be fine. But any sort of oil tends to seep into the concrete a bit. It doesn’t cause any actual problems (I’ve heard of concrete bubbling up on some people who have tried this), but it will leave permanent discoloration.

  • I’m dying to cover our old laminate counters with Ardex, but I’m hesitant about the sink. Maybe this is a stupid question, but how difficult is it to take the whole sink out? I just tried replacing our sprayer and embarrassingly couldn’t do it myself. Would it be weird to do this without taking the sink out or did you find that part necessary and/or easy?

    Thank you!!

  • They look amazing! I’m thinking about doing mine but I would like to know how they are holding up- any chips or stains?

  • Wow, those look fabulous. And I too have yellow kitchen cabinets with a hideous grey counter top. May consider doing this myself, as concrete would look so much better than what I currently have. Well done. And lovely photos too!

  • Hi, it’s been several years since your post, so I’m curious about how these have worn and if you would still recommend?

    • We did this to our kitchen countertops (which were laminate) almost 3 years ago and honestly they have held up great! After enough cooking we did find oil is the only main issue that causes discoloration. I had read on some other blogs that putting a cutting board next to “high use” areas would cut down on any issues which is exactly what we did next to our sink for hand washing dishes and cutting food…I am in the process of touching up oil areas with a light coat of Ardex and then resealing so if that’s all the maintenance required for this length of time I’d say thats pretty awesome. We found a food grade sealer back when we first did ours.

  • How are they doing now a couple years later? I’m thinking of doing this in my house!!

    • I’d love to know this as well. This looks like the perfect solution to my kitchen counter top.

  • How is this holding up over time, please?

    Also, have you tried this with colored concrete?

    Thanks

  • I am curious about using a color stain on this?? Would you use the same as a concrete floor?? I found another website just like what yours did, but yours if MUCH more helpful. Can’t wait to start this!

    So the initial question is coloring the concrete after your last sanding?? Thank you ..

  • Hello. I love ur tutorial. I am wanting to do this to my countertops, and have researched many tutorials on how to do it. I have some concerns with the sealer thou. See that’s the one thing that has been inconsistent throughout all tutorials. . Please give an update on how ur countertops have held up and if u had to do it all over again what would u do differently.

  • We did the same concrete counter tops in our kitchen in January 2017. We have a MASSIVE kitchen and tons of counter so doing anything else was out of the budget.

    We are thrilled with how they turned out….and they are holding up very good. The imperfections and color variances are great. My back splash is white shiplap and my island is butcher block. These all work really well together.

    Are you still pleased with your counters?